Competition in Healthcare

In today’s ever-changing medical field, with the cost of health care continuing to rise, patients are expecting a higher level of service. Today’s patients are not only looking for high-level organization with physicians and nurses; they are also looking for the best value. With the explosion of the World Wide Web and the limitless information found there, today’s patients are more informed and knowledgeable than ever before. Patients are armed with hospital ratings and physician dashboards, information found on blogs, and review sites. They have become true consumers who look for the very best care at the very best price.

Knowing how patients feel about the service they receive and whether they are satisfied or not has become critical to the future of health care organization. This is where competition within the healthcare field comes into play. “Healthcare executives and organizations that don’t adjust to a more competitive future surely will struggle if not fail” (Burda, 2008). Some experts believe that there is no place for competition in healthcare because patients do not truly understand medical practice, and because there are so many specialties, and because the majority of care is paid for by insurers, employers and government agencies (Institute, n. . a). On the other hand, other experts claim that there is too much competition in healthcare, causing “duplication, excess investment, and wasteful administrative costs” (Institute, n. d. a). Community hospitals typically cannot compete with specialized hospitals and outpatient facilities (Institute, n. d. a). Competitive healthcare typically does not endorse or create value for patients. It ultimately creates increased revenue and re-assigns costs for the organization, and can limit services to the patients (Institute, n. d. b).

Oppositely, it can also improve the quality of care received, keeps costs low, and cause great strides in new technology and improved services (Federal, 2009). This seems to be the area where a hospital or other related healthcare organization would have the upper hand over a private physician practice. Some patients prefer a provider in a private practice because the provider would seem more humble, down-to-earth, and more personable. That provider, however, is less likely to learn from the knowledge of colleagues that he or she would work with closely on a day-to-day basis.

When competition seems to be putting a strain on smaller practices, some small-time physicians may be forced to leave their practice and join forces with a larger facility, possibly even because private physicians aren’t always able to afford their malpractice and other insurance premiums. Those types of liabilities are often offered as incentives when working for larger practices. Also, many customers think that going to bigger city hospitals and practices mean better care, but that is not always the case. That very ideal makes it important for private practice physicians to be in direct competition with hospitals and group practices.

In order for a private practice physician or other similar type of provider to compete, he or she must offer something that the larger organizations do not and that area of focus must be capitalized in order for him or her to be successful. Waiting and reception areas will be made over into something more elegant, office hours will be extended, perhaps even to include Saturday office hours, and more personal touches may be added. A private practice physician in a very small community may make personal follow-up phone calls, give out his or her personal phone number to patients, or even make house calls (Stossel, Binkley & McMenamin, 2007).

Ultimately, the physician must please his or her patient, not an insurance company or some government agency, even if it means being available 24 hours a day. This must be done whether the provider is in private practice or in a large organization. There are several aspects where larger organizations have an advantage over smaller and private practices as far as competing goes. Larger companies will be more likely to be able to afford more advertising, potentially drawing in more customers. They will more likely be able to afford the newest and most expensive medical devices and equipment.

They can afford to hire entire coding, billing, and records departments to handle all the billing and paperwork, instead of leaving a physician and a very small staff to complete all of these by themselves. All of these give them an advantage competitively over smaller practices, possibly even driving small-time physicians to join them in order to survive. This type of competition is reminiscent of Walmart’s takeover of the retail merchandise business. Some experts have suggested that “Wal-Mart drives small discount retailers out of communities” (Bandyk, 2008).

Smaller retailers can’t compete with the buying power, workforce, customer loyalty, and name of Walmart. This can be related to any type of business, even in the healthcare field. How these scenarios are handled depends on how each practice is set up and will ultimately affect patient satisfaction and loyalty. This can greatly affect all aspects of the business, no matter how big or small. When it all comes down to the end, whether a private physician or larger facility, they must all strive to do better than the competition, providing quality and affordable care to stay in the game.

In all industries, competition among businesses has long been encouraged as a mechanism to increase value for patients. In other words, competition ensures the provision of better products and services to satisfy the needs of customers (Glover & Rivers, 2009). …

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There is a grave need of plans to be entrenched within the general description of managed competition, a concept that amalgamates reliance of private initiative with government to assure a level playing field”. Bipartisan Commission approach that identifies middle ground …

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